December 6th, 2008
|It is with sadness
in my heart that I have to report that tonight's show in Bandung,
Indonesia is cancelled. The main reason being a messed up airline transfer
that got us stuck in Guangzhou. Everyone involved has been working their
asses off to make it work but in the end we had to give up. Now we are
stuck at Hong Kong airport, building a little nest of bags and pillows to
sleep in. I promise I will return to Indonesia as soon as possible.
The Kuala Lumpur show is still happening, it is on Dec 9th, 8:30 pm at the Annexe Gallery
November 4th, 2008
(Viktor Sjöberg as a Pet Shop Boy, age
JENS LEKMAN and VIKTOR SJÖBERG
October 27th, 2008
|If you live near Northampton, MA, you should come out now on Saturday, November 1st to the Northampton High School Auditorium. I'm doing a benefit show for Clara Gardner, a young student who lost her legs when she was hit by an alleged drunk driver recently. I don't usually do benefit shows but I was very touched by Claras friends who came together and arranged all this for her. What started as an idea to do a private show to cheer her up, has now turned into a real show in a 700 capacity auditorium, so tell all your friends, get in your cars and drive to Massachusets !|
June 30th, 2008
Friday I will take a vacation from my vacation and pick some golden apples
at Guldkant, which is my friend
Victorias club in Stockholm. I will play
records and drink champagne. Please come out and say hi, I've missed you.
Guldkant - Restaurangen™
June 20th, 2008
I'm flattered, but when did I say Booonooo ?
June 19th, 2008
|Everytime I play on
some satellite radio station I always end up in
the same discussion.
- You know you can say
anything you want here right ?
Also makes me think about a year ago when I was walking around in Singapore, completely mesmerized by its bright, clean streets. The dead fasade giving me the creeps until it appeared in front of me, sprayed in black on a wall: fuck. In cursive, just like that. Probably a kid who just had to put that word on that wall for everyone to see and feel. No matter what the punishment would be.
Also makes me think of Burt Bacharach and how he after decades of songwriting finally decided to incorporate the word into one of his songs. And got censored by his recordlabel. You know how hard that words absence hits you, when you know it's supposed to be there ?
You see what I'm talking about here ? I'm talking about finesse for fucks sake.
June 16th, 2008
On a hike in the woods
May 31st, 2062
|So this was back in 2008, Your grandfather had just done his last show for that year up at Hammer Hill for a bunch of nice people. I think this was filmed with a phone, yeah I know, it's ridiculous, but this was before people had cameras operated into their eyes at birth. Call me oldfashioned but I actually really like those warm pixelated images. Hey honey, can you pass me the cashews ? Yuk, are these not salted ? That's disgusting. Anyways, so you can't really see him but José Gonzalez was sitting to the right somewhere drinking a beer and clapping along. We both grew up in Hammer Hill and so we had this homecoming show you could say, it was such a perfect day, 25 degrees C and hardly a cloud in the sky. I had been in a bad mood for some time but I knew it would get better after this night. And then... What ? Yeah, José Gonzalez. No I'm serious, I used to know him, he was pretty big back then too but this was before he rewrote the National Anthem and stuff. Now can you stop interrupting me, I'm trying to tell you a story here. So this hill was special, this hill was where we used to go watch the comets. We watched Halley's Comet back in 1986, me and your grandgrandfather, and then Halebopps Comet when I was 16 and tried to impress this finnish girl, and this was where I wanted to take you to watch Halley's Comet last year when it returned on it's 75 year orbit, but of course you guys wanted to go to Denmark instead. Well it doesnt really matter, after they found minerals down in the train terminal back in 2034 the whole place turned into such a gated snob community. I had to bribe my old friends from highschool to even get in. But I will always call that place my home, and I will always remember those warm summernights up on the hill back when I was a young man. Honey, where are you going with those cashews ?|
May 17th, 2008
I've been having this anger inside of me the last three months. I don't know where it comes from exactly, but it has to do with patterns in my life that keep repeating themselves, plans that don't work out, the reality of things, money, stupidity (my own and others), boredom, frustration, jealousy, mistakes, misunderstandings. I've been trying to write about it here but I havent been able to finish the sentences. I can't turn it into art.
But it's a feeling at least, it makes me do things, it helps me get up in the morning. If it wasn't for this anger and also if it wasn't for a certain slice of rhubarb pie one early morning in Chicago, I wouldn't have made it all the way here. I could tell you more about the rhubarb pie, but this time it's none of your business.
Anyways, touring all spring was the worst idea I've ever been talked into. I think it was Joe Franklin who once said that the most important thing in showbusiness is sincerity and learning how to fake it. But I just can't pull it off. I just can't glue that fake smile to my face and go out there, it makes me feel like a fraud. I've really been struggling with tricking myself into being excited for every show.
I do have one show coming up that I'm very excited about however. I'm very happy to announce that my last show this year will be at Hammarkulle Karnevalen. It will be a special show to me and I couldn't think of a better way to wrap it up then to come home to a sweet summernight on Hammer Hill with Tammy banging the bongos and a very special guest on vocals.
Throw some coal on the barbecue, I'm coming home.
April 6th, 2008
From the houseparty in Brooklyn, after the Webster Hall show.
Photos by Gary Olson
March 30th, 2008
photo by Viktor Sjöberg
March 28th, 2008
I always think places like these will clear my mind, empty fields, mountains in the distance. But instead they open up huge black holes in my head. I start thinking of every mistake I've ever made, everything that has gone wrong in my life. And when I come to the point where I can't take it anymore, all of a sudden they close down the I-80 because of a snowstorm. Stuck in Rawlins, with no cellphone signal, no internet, the air outside gives you a nosebleed and every bar and café is packed with stranded truckers. The Denver show got cancelled, it made me very sad. There was nothing to distract me anymore and I completely lost it.
March 17th, 2008
|After the SXSW
weekend I collected all the business cards I had been given and in a
sealed off, wind free hotelroom I built a castle out of them. Like you
would build a castle out of playing cards. My castle had eight towers, a
gate that could be lowered to form a bridge over the moat I'd dug around
it and a catapult to throw pots of boiling oil at enemies. It was a grand
castle and I sat in there all day thinking about all the hands I'd been
shaking and all the casual business suits I'd seen. The lonesome Texas
sunset would shine through the cracks, reflecting extra nice in the
laminated cards, sending off suncats dancing over the walls. By supper
time I invited my bassist Terese in. She played me some new records she
had bought from some good bands. Finally Punk and New Bloods. Real bands she said, not like the
theoretical bands in Stockholm. They play real instruments, and they
probably even have a real rehearsal space. I said I really liked it but I
wasnt interested in watching bands at the festival, I just watched comedy. I
told her about Tig Notaros short but amazing show, and how nice she was to
talk to. I tried to retell one of her jokes, but as always I failed.
Terese yawned and retreated to a couch where she fell asleep. I sat up and
read the newspaper until I passed out, a string of saliva hanging from my
lip, dangling over the upcoming election.
Then a subtle beep woke us up, followed by a slight swoosh. We looked at each other with dismay, the air conditioner was set to a timer.
March 11th, 2008
photo by Tammy Karlsson
February 22nd, 2008
The Mont Blanc Tunnel
February 21st, 2008
|Kim Ki O ,
which is Turkish for "Who is that anyway?" consists of Ekin and Berna from
Istanbul. They were one of the few bands I really liked last year. They
helped me set up my show in Istanbul on Valentines Day and I am bringing
them along for a few shows on the European tour.
A few weeks ago I got a live recording of one of their shows and while listening I decided to write down some questions.
Meet Kim Ki O
Listen to "Dogru"
Listen to "Kapali Kapali Kapali"
I’m listening to the live recording you sent me while writing this. Wow, the crowd really loves you. Tell me about that night.
Ekin: It was such a crazy night. We played as a part of this festival called Phonem and we opened for the New Yorker band Au Revoir Simone. Berna came from Holland to play the show and it had been a while since we last played, therefore everybody was there. It was the night of firsts for us. It was the first time we played in a big venue, to a big crowd. It was the first time we played with a really good sound system and therefore it was the first time we ‘kind of’ sounded loud. And it was the first time we played somewhere that had a backstage; instead of climbing to the stage, we came out from the back stage and that felt revolutionary! It was also the first time that we were hit by flowers from the audience. That was really sweet. That night was like a dream, I still feel like crying when I think about it.
Berna: What is left for me to say… Revolutionary is the word. Well, just one thing though, we had missed playing a lot back then, and therefore we were strongly motivated I believe.
I discovered you through the Radio Dept who played a show with you in Istanbul. You seem to share a somewhat similar musical vision, the melodies and instrumentation is very emotional but I can’t decide what mood it's in. It’s monotone but it has a lightness. I guess my inability to understand the lyrics play a part in this too. But what mood is Kim Ki O in?
Ekin: Oh, we didn’t actually play a show with the Radio Dept here. Me and my friends that we’ve been working together putting out a magazine had organized the Radio Dept show here. And when I gave them our cd, they really liked what they heard and we were thrilled to hear that! Kim Ki O’s mood is actually very dependent on the monotonous loops and it is as you say deeply emotional and also highly personal. Instrumentation is at least as important as the lyrics in how the mood automatically builds itself and this mood is most of the time quite depressing. We have realized that we are not good at writing happy songs. We can write kind of funny and humorous songs every once in a while like “Dogru” or “Punk”, but most of the time the mood is depressing, complicated, angry inside and self-destructive.
Berna: I should add that the way we make the songs is also important since that is how we happen to play them live as well. I think we are in a way a bit impulsive and if it feels somewhat intimate/sincere – and I hope it does – that would be the reason. It just happens that way, usually even we are not aware of what’s going on until we are done with a song. There are almost no plannings ahead.
And what are your songs about ? What does Kapali mean ? In that song - Kapali, Kapali, Kapali I get the feeling you’re bored or sick of something. It’s like Kapali, Kapali… always this Kapali.
Berna: Generally speaking, our songs mostly involve some kind of critical manner, sometimes even complaints. Complaints about one’s self. Even when we want to point out a general trouble like we do in the song “Atesi Kesinnn”, we end up criticizing ourselves somehow. But especially “Kapali, Kapali, Kapali” is about a heartbreak, a heartache beyond disappointment. And exactly; it is something to be sick of at that point.
Ekin: It’s impressive how you can get the perfect right feeling out of our songs and how it’s not only the language that matters. Kapali has several meanings like “to be closed”, “to be off”, “to be sealed” or when it comes to weather it means “to be cloudy”. In the song, the heart is referred as being kapali – in a secret kind of way –, meaning it is sealed and cannot take in anything anymore. It is about the unavoidable feeling you get when someone breaks your heart and you think the best thing to do is to punish yourself by closing all the access to your inner self which is no good of course. But you can’t help it. And what you’re bored and sick of in the end is not the person who broke your heart, but your self-destructive self.
When I listen to a song like Dogru, I hear something that I interpret as Turkish. There’s something in those bells and the harmonies. Do you agree or am I way off ?
Ekin: I will have to agree that there’s something really wrong with the harmonies there, but it is hard to say that it is Turkish. It’s definitely far from western harmonies though, so I don’t think you are completely way off. But that song sounds so weird that it even feels like out of nowhere for the Turkish.
Berna: Yes, actually there are so many things wrong with the song. Also the lyrics… I don’t think they are even translatable.
What is the music scene in Istanbul like ? Is there one ? Do you feel like you belong to one?
Ekin: The current scene is quite exciting compared to 6-7 years ago when everything was extremely harder to achieve. Today more bands writing their songs and performing them instead of playing only covers. But there are still nearly no independent labels to put these bands’ songs out. Compared to the reality of Turkey, people who are interested with this underground movement feel like a closed community who carry on with their activities through MySpace. I don’t actually feel like belonging to a scene here though, as to me our music and the undesired methods we use to do things is extremely personal. Lacking the drum set and computer programming out of the beats, hiding down the vocals and the lo-fi sensibility when it’s all about producers and hi-fi equipments around makes me feel kind of lonely. It is sometimes even embarrassing to play our songs live to an audience. But at the same time it’s the most amazing thing to build the empathic relationship with other people who are into what we’re doing. That’s magic!
Berna: Honestly, even if the scene is small and people generally are not used to lo-fi music, I am impressed and pretty happy about the fact that we are being appreciated here. I think we are very lucky in that sense.
Lately I’ve been quite obsessed with scents and smells. What’s your favourite scent and what does Istanbul smell like ? I learned in school that Istanbul is the only city in the world that is situated on two continents. Is there a difference in scent between the European and the Asian side ?
Berna: I think Istanbul smells like something in the middle of Bombay and Madrid. I don’t know why, but I have always had this in my mind. It is hard to explain why. And my favorite scent is definately there in the libraries... The old books... Eventhough I am not the best reader of all times...
Ekin: I’m allergic to artificial scents, therefore I can’t put on any perfume, or I can’t stand anywhere where there’s perfume and plus I really like how different natural scents everybody has. My all times favourite scent though is the smell of soil right after it has rained. Unfortunately you don’t get that quite often in Istanbul. Istanbul has several scents like the sea, the coal in winter, the garbage in summer or the cigarette wherever you are in indoors. I live on the Asian side and I think the most specific smell of the Asian side is the smell of the “froggy river” – it’s called that – near my neighbourhood. There is this small river in the middle of the city which was required to be cleaned years ago, but it is still really dirty. So whenever there is wind coming from southwest, it smells really bad and a lot of mosquitos too! But it’s actually a beautiful neighborhood.
Ok, I’m at the end of the live-cd now and your voice all of a sudden sounds like a really pissed of demon. What’s going on ? I was also thinking of how your vocals are mixed really low underneath the music on your recordings, are the words not meant to be heard ? Or are they meant only for the ones who truly listen ?
Ekin: Oh, it’s the song “I Don’t Relate” where I use the Darth Vader-like vocoder programming from the synth with a second mic on some parts of the vocals. It’s meant to include someone evil as the third band member to the song. There’s a dialogue going between two people in the song…
Berna: I have always thought the Darth Vader was a voice in my head (!)
Ekin: No Berna, it’s not in your head, it’s so real. It’s the reality! Actually Berna and I are like the same person in the dialogue going on in the song. And this evil sounding voice comes and says things like “You don’t relate, you are not the one” to this person in a truly heartbreaking way.
Berna: Well, it indeed involves a dialogue. And when the vocoder says “you are not the one”, I say “please say it again”. That is the climax of the entire lyrics for me. I like the way it hurts inside, so I like repeating that part several times. And I have to confess I like the fact that only the ones who truly listen do understand the lyrics, especially considering the warm feeling you get when you have the urge to really find out about something. I think it draws one into the music in a way, into anything, and the hidden is good, because the effort is good.
Ekin: Exactly… The vocals in our music do not get on top of the instrumentation. We don’t want it to be that way. Plus you will hear them if you really want to. And maybe, you don’t even have to know the language!
February 20th, 2008
|Lakshmi Herbal Beauty Studio in Varkala, India is owned by Mrs
Lakshmi and her son. They offer haircuts and ayurveda massage among other
things. Here's what two travelers, Anders & Ulrica, wrote to me:
"As I'm sure you know you're the coverboy for Lakshmi Herbal Beauty Studio in Varkala, India. We were very amused to find the picture on the wall of a tiny local massage and hair salon while recently travelling through Kerala in South India. The place is run by wife and son Lakshmi who in broken english explained that the picture portrayed "the haircutting of a man dreaming among the clouds". They probably found our claim that the picture was the record cover from a Swedish artist both amusing and a little crazy".
I do of course wish Lakshmi best of luck and hope to be able to drop by someday. This also brings me into something, I really need a haircut right now. And as much as I am scared of letting a new person try their skills on me, I feel more secure doing that then just walking into a random hair salon somewhere in Germany. So is anyone up for the job ? Anyone who would be up for trading a haircut for some free tickets for a show ? Send me some lo-res pics of what you've done before and we'll talk.
February 15th, 2008
Jens Lekman, Live in Istanbul, Valentines Day 2008
Some songs were edited out due to glitches in the recording but all the beauty is in there.
February 11th, 2008
I am back in Sweden now. Just temporarily, staying with mom and dad in my old teenage room. I don't wanna be here. I had just settled down in Melbourne and everything was so good. I had a home there Corey, in an old shop with big windows. People walked by in the morning, cupping their hands so they could look in. What kinda shop is this ? What is he selling ? Books ? Furniture ? Orthopedic shoes ? I hung a sign on the door saying "Sorry we're closed.... Forever".
Have people forgotten you yet Corey ? I read about you in the papers everyday. You threw a party, it was the greatest party ever. You just stood there on primetime TV and refused to apologise. I don't know, maybe you're the biggest jerk who's walked the earth, but I liked it.
You know what Corey, I have this new confidence all of a sudden. It's strong, it feels like when you've just come out of a relationship and you think to yourself - hey I don't need anyone. I actually don't need anyone at all... Maybe it's that point before everything comes crashing down but I've never felt it this strong. I have to do something with it. Have you ever felt like that during your 16 year old life Corey?
I wrote some new songs in Melbourne. I wrote them fast because they emerged from feelings that were passing through. I didnt have time to wait for them to develop. I felt really inspired, I could've written a whole new album. Shit, I don't wanna be back here. I feel nothing here. Everytime I strike a chord it's a miserable chord, like an A-minor or a D-major7.
Corey, why am I telling you all this ? I don't even know you. Why am I replacing my friends and family with strangers? Because strangers rarely dissapoint? But all the people who write to me, all those strangers, they fill a purpose for me. People say it's a marketing trick, just like your yellow sunglasses. They say that about everything I do, everytime I try to get away from the impersonal and the insincere they say I'm going for the "anti-dollar". People can be so fucking cynical Corey! But all the strangers who write to me, they really mean something to me. I need them. They help me develop my thoughts and at the end of the day they make me feel less lonely. Someone told me the other week that I'm not a very open person. It made me sad but it's true. In life I don't show much of myself, but in my music I want to reveal all.
January 25th, 2008
(From Metro, Jan 24th 2008)
...Özcan Özel who found Jens Lekmans P3 Guld prize in his Pizza Hut restaurant in Stockholm.
The P3 Guld Awards took place in Göteborg and Jens Lekman lives in Australia, how did the prize end up at Pizza Hut in Stockholm ?
I have no idea. It was here when I came in this morning. First I thought there was broken glass in the bag, but then I saw that it was a prize. The restaurant is close to the train station, so someone who came from Göteborg must have forgotten it here while buying food.
What are you gonna do with the prize ?
I have it in my office and I'm waiting for someone from the recordlabel to come pick it up. If they don't show up I'll auction it out on the internet.
What do you think of Jens Lekman ?
I watched the awards, but I didn't know who he was at that point. Now I guess I'll find out.
January 11th, 2008
Old Talk 2007
Old Talk 2006
Old Talk 2005
Old Talk 2004